As Formula 1 sets up camp at Hungaroring near Budapest, the hottest topic in the paddock is all about: Sergio or Seb? If you were Lawrence Stroll who would you pick to lead Aston Martin’s foray into the top flight next year?
Sebastian Vettel is out of work at the end of this season, Ferrari dumping him in favour of Carlos Sainz, and doors there as well as at Mercedes, Red Bull, Renault, McLaren now firmly shut. There is a glimmer that the German can strike a deal with the current Racing Point owners to spearhead their ambitious project next year.
But Seb is undergoing a lengthy spell of below-par-form that has done his reputation no favours, incident prone is an apt description of the driver who has four F1 world titles to his name but on current form, erratic since Charles Leclerc joined the team, is hardly a natural pick.
Aston Martin may decelerate this downfall but, in doing so, they will have to oust Sergio Perez because Lance Stroll is going nowhere.
Perez allegedly has a deal with the team that stretches beyond 2020, but F1 contracts can be rendered worthless and often are, and it would take the Mexican’s compliance for the Vettel coming to happen.
One expects Gerhard Berger to know a few things, and he reports it as a done deal when he told Servus TV: “When deals are being discussed openly in the paddock, it often means that they are already done. So I can imagine that Sebastian will appear at Racing Point. For him, it could be the only alternative with which he can also win races.”
Seb or Sergio? question no doubt being posed in the Stroll household and Racing Point motorhome as they ponder the options we tap into our team for their insights into the dilemma facing Lance and his mates.
Paul Velasco: “It would be a travesty if either Seb or Sergio are out of F1 in 2021. Both deserve to be there, albeit for different reasons. Sergio is highly underrated, and had he not been misled by McLaren might today have been a Ferrari great.
“Since that terrible year at Woking, where he never put a foot wrong but was ditched after only one season, Sergio has never stopped delivering for the Silverstone team (in its various guises) on a regular basis. He deserves another crack at a big team, or at least be part of the Aston Martin project. He has paid his dues, and F1 owes him that.
“Seb, on the other hand, is a mega-brand a superstar of the sport, his face on the poster for Aston Martin’s F1 adventure is a marketing dream come true and would add instant cred to the campaign. With the right cocoon around him, which he clearly no longer has at Maranello, he could transform to the winning machine he was in the Red Bull days.
“So if I had it my way, I would sit on the fence and let Lawrence decide. But for argument’s sake, I would say: Sergio.”
Ben Stevens: While I still believe Seb is one of the better drivers on the grid, Sergio is no slouch, and just as importantly at a team where everything runs through the Strolls, he manages to be better than Lance without rocking the boat.
“In contrast, Seb has shown he struggles to play nice with others, and that’s going to be doubly hard to swallow when he’s given equal treatment to a guy half-a-second slower.
“Add in Sergio’s sponsorship money and I don’t see how Seb is more beneficial, outside of the novelty of a four-time champ in an Aston Martin, which I suspect will quickly wear off. I say: Sergio.”
William Dodds: “As much as Sergio Perez is an excellent driver that has done plenty for this team, I think Sebastian Vettel is a step up. Not only is he a four-time world champion, but even in recent years he has remained the closest challenger to the dominance of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
“For me, a change of location could help the German recapture his best form and while I think losing Perez rather than Lance Stroll would be a mistake, there are obvious reasons that make it the more likely scenario. All in all, Vettel has the history and star power to prove a valuable addition to the Aston Martin project. I say Seb.”
Sam Tomlinson: “With Racing Point’s transition into Aston Martin in 2021, the answer is simple. Sergio Perez has already made his name as an intrinsic part of the Silverstone based team both as a driver and it’s saviour with the legal action he brought against Force India that has allowed the group to stay afloat.
“Perez has already proven himself to be at one with the RP20 in Austria – I’ll give him a free pass in qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix with both cars out of position in the wet.
Over the past few seasons, we have seen the beginning of the downfall of Sebastian Vettel. From what we have seen, it would be fair to say that Seb isn’t quite what he used to be, making mistakes he wouldn’t have made in his prime.
“The 33-year-old hasn’t coped well with being shown-up by young Charles Leclerc. If I’m Otmar Szafnauer or Lawrence Stroll, why change a system that is working at a time when stability within the team will become even more crucially important? I call: Sergio.”